tv C-SPAN2 Weekend CSPAN December 19, 2009 7:00am-8:00am EST
stays these couriers from the swift completion of their pointed rounds, a snowstorm has struck than half an hour to be here on the floor of the senate to vote at this early morning hour. and for any who are hail and hearty and up watching or following this debate, the obvious question is: why? why is the senate in and what is it doing? well, we're in because the republican senators are filibustering the department of defense appropriation bill. this is the money for our troops, for our military, for their families, for their health care, for their equipment, for their paychecks. it is a bill which usually passes with a few patriotic speeches and little controversy and yet the republicans have held us now, this is the third day on the floor because they are filibustering the department of defense appropriation bill. and you might ask yourself:
what's happened? has the republican party turned on america's military? i don't think so. i think, in fact, that they support america's military but they're willing to use them and use their spending bill as part of their parliamentary procedure. we know what this is all about. it is about delaying the business of the senate. and not just health care. they want to delay everything in the senate. that is their strategy. that is what they have to offer to the american people. not ideas, not alternatives, not solutions but delay. i suppose they think that's a winning way. the senator from tennessee just predicted in the next election the american people will rally behind this strategy of theirs of doing nothing, of failing to respond to the challenges facing america. i see it otherwise.
i have this simple analysis of why i'm here. the people of illinois sent me here to try and do a good job for them and make some good judgments on the floor but basically to help improve their lives. if you do nothing, if you deny, if you filibuster, if that's all you do, you don't have much to show for it at the end of the day. and the record's pretty clear. we've been debating health care reform for more than two weeks. about 19 or 20 days of debate. on a 2,000-page bill. the senator from tennessee complains, well, we just don't know what's in this bill. well, this bill has been posted on the republican senate web site for more than two weeks. i think they know what's in it. and do you know how many amendments, mr. president, they came up with to change the language of this bill in the span of 20 days? how many bright, creative republican ideas came up with to
change this bill in 20 days? four. four amendments in 20 days. the combined wisdom of the republican senate caucus came up with four amendments to this bill of 2,000 pages in 20 days and six motions to send the bill back to committee and stop talking about it. now the senator tells us we need more time. you've had time. you've had plenty of time. you've had time to offer your substitute. we've been waiting on the republicans to come forward if they think america's health care system can be improved, with their ideas. the senator from oklahoma, senator coburn, has said he has a plan. never offered it. i don't know if he tried to offer it, if the republican leadership turned him down. senator grassley said on the floor, from iowa, we have a plan. where is this secret plan? where is the republican plan for
reforming health care? carefully hidden and secreted away in the cloakroom? is it under a snowdrift in the parking lot? what have you done with your plan? you don't have one. if you go to the republican senate web site and look for health care reform, you'll find it. you'll find the democratic bill because frankly they have nothing to offer. now comes the senator from tennessee and says stop what we're doing, let's stop right now. our plan is to slow down, filibuster the defense appropriations bill and slow down everything that comes after it in the hope that we'll stop and do nothing. and he argues that's good for the american people. let me tell you what the senator from tennessee will risk for the american people if he has his way. we know immediately -- immediately -- that the doughnut hole in the medicare prescription part-d for seniors is going to be filled across america. what it means is that seniors who have a gap in insurance coverage for prescription drugs
will have that filled. eight million seniors in 2007 hit that doughnut hole because they had medical bills more expensive than what medicare covered. we're going to fill that doughnut hole. and by 2010, seniors across america immediately will see the benefit. the senator from tennessee says this bill will destroy medicare. not quite true. in fact, the congressional budget office says this bill will put medicare on sound footing. medicare untouched will go broke in about eight years. medicare, because of this bill, will have another ten years of sound financial footing, exactly the opposite of what has been stated on the floor. how many parents get worried because their kids are in college and they're on the family health care plan and they're about to graduate, and you wonder are they going to have health insurance?
well, in most places across america, most policies by age 24, your dependent child is no longer covered by your family plan. immediately with the passage of this bill we are going to extend coverage, immediate health for 13 million to 14 million young americans no longer in college, not covered by their own employment insurance, not eligible for their parents' coverage, they are going to have coverage under this plan. only six months after the enactment of this bill insurers will be required to permit children to stay on family policies until age 26, in the year 2010. when the senator from tennessee says nothing happens until 2014 except collecting taxes, he's mistaken. that happens immediately. free prevention services are going to be available as well. prevention services that will help a lot of people avoid serious illness. today many americans pay 20% of the cost of many preventive
service. millions have no access to them at all. the senate, this bill, will require coverage of prevention and wellness benefits. and for seniors, the senate bill is going to provide free annual wellness checkups immediately. insurance reform as well. the senator from tennessee keeps overlooking this, and he shouldn't. one of the biggest rip-offs for american consumers are health insurance companies that turn you down because of preexisting conditions and a variety of other reasons they find not to cover you. this senate bill will give americans the opportunity to focus on healthy living, will put patients first, it will eliminate abuses by insurance company. it immediately bans rescissions, the practice where health insurance companies canceling your policy -- canceling your policy. six months after your enactment in 2010, insurers are prohibited from imposing lifetime limits on benefits. these are immediate benefits. we know what the republican play back is because they gave it to us, maybe not intentionally.
but early on, eight months ago, the republican strategist frank luntz sent out a memo before the bill was written and said here's how you can defeat health care reform. this does suggest to me there was never a good-faith effort at the top of the republican party to consider health care reform. he went through all the things to defeat health care reform even before the bill was introduced, talking about rationing and denial and talking about government programs and so forth and so on. buzzwords. and then the current inspiration of the republican senate party, michael steele, the republican national committee chairman, a man that i'm sure the senator from tennessee holds in the highest esteem, recently shared with us the following in a memo memo -- quote, chairman steele wrote -- i urge everyone to use
every bit of energy you have to stop this health care reform. the democrats accuse us of trying to delay, stall, slow down and stop this bill. they are right, chairman steele says. his words: delay, stall, slow down and stop. for eight months that has been the republican strategy. unfortunately that strategy now applies to the department of defense appropriations bill which we'll vote on this morning. 100 senators will trek through the snow and come in early this morning to vote on a bill which we should all support unanimously. they'll try parliamentary efforts to stop the bill, derail the bill, even though the continuing resolution expired last night. i hope that we can gather enough bipartisan support for our troops to pass this this morning, have a cup of coffee and go home to our families soon to celebrate the holiday season. i reserve the balance of my time and yield the floor. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask consent that the ten minutes i have, five of it be reserved for the senator
from illinois during my final ten minutes. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mrs. hutchison: mr. president, i would be using some of the leader's time. if the leader decides to step in here, it will be certainly -- all he has to do is signal. i want to, first of all, say how much i appreciate the leader, senator mcconnell, the republican leader, senator mcconnell, for the heroic efforts really that he has made in the last few weeks to try to assure that the american people
know what is in the bill that will be put before us very soon. i say put before us very soon because we don't know what the substitute bill is that has been worked on for the last few days. we haven't seen it yet. and i think that brings up an important point. i am hoping that the distinguished majority leader, who is also here on the floor, will allow america as well as certainly the united states senators to see the manager's amendment, which is all of the changes in the bill that is before us, before we are forced to vote on this monumental piece of legislation. you know, when i am talking to my constituents back home, my friends, people who just come up to me on an airplane, they say,
"what are you doing? why is this being rushed through when it is one-sixth of our economy, when it is the quality of life for every american, when we're talking about jobs in the private sector that will be sacrificed for a big government takeover." more government jobs, fewer private-sector jobs. people are saying, "what are you doing?" when i was talking about the taxes that are going to take effect in two weeks now before the bill takes effect four years from now, people were surprised, even very informed people who read all the major newspapers, they said, what? the taxes are going to take effect four years before the bill takes effect? i mean, what are you all doing? has congress ever done that before? and, you know, i couldn't remember a time when congress
would pass taxes for four years purporting to put together a new program, and then all of a sudden after four years the program would start but the taxes have accumulated, and it's going to be $75 billion that will have accumulated before any implementation of the bill that is before us. so, you know, i've heard the criticism on the floor that republicans are trying to slow this down. they're trying to stop this bill. it is very important that this health care bill be slowed down so that not only the united states senate, but the people of america can look at this and determine how it affects them personally, so they can look at what the proposed options are going to be, they can look at the taxes, they can look at the mandates, they can look at the small business requirements that
could actually cost jobs. now, you would say, well, you know, if it costs a few jobs, maybe there's a greater good. we're in the toughest recession we have been in since the 1940's, since world war ii. we're in the toughest recession we have been in, and here we are maybe stopping job increases or maybe adding to the unemployment figures which are the highest in 40 years in our country. so, i know that the american people are saying why? why push this stphru why push it through so fast when we're talking about maybe losing jobs in an economic downturn, when people are already hurting. even the people who are employed are afraid that maybe they're going to be let off because times seem to be getting tougher out there.
and, you know, we hear that the buying season, the christmas season is not going as well as retailers have come to expect to try to make their yearly requirements, to make their profits. and so what does that mean? if we don't make those profits, then people are not buying and people are not going to be hired, and maybe people are going to be laid off. i don't think this is the time to be talking about losing jobs, losing jobs, something that's going to increase the burden and the mandate and the taxes on our business. the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mrs. hutchison: mr. president, i hope we can have a bill that will be bipartisan that we can all support. thank you, mr. president. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: there's five minutes left; is that right? the presiding officer: the senator is correct. mr. reid: i direct this question to my distinguished colleague, senator mcconnell, who's on the floor.
is my distinguished friend going to use any of your leader time this morning? thank you very much. mr. president, to my friend from texas, who i care about a great deal -- a member of the appropriations committee -- i'm somewhat disappointed she spent all morning not talking about the bill that's before us, namely, the bill that's going to fund our troops. that's why we're here. it's just after 7:00 in the morning in washington, just after 4:00 a.m. in nevada. those in the united states may be wondering why we're voting on this rare hour early on a saturday morning in what is shaping up to be one of the worst snowstorms in washington's history. the reason is simple: we have work to do. we're going to support the troops, make sure they have all the resources they need. i'm confident, mr. president, that my republican colleagues today will do that, join with us in that regard. i also say to my friend from
texas and others, first of all, there was some -- we offered a unanimous consent request as soon as these proceedings started dealing with health care. i asked unanimous consent, i said that no amendment be in order to the reid substitute amendment unless the text or internet link or text to the amendment is posted on the home page of the official home site prior to the amendment being called up for consideration by the senate and the amendment is filed at the desk. further, that this unanimous consent request be in effect for the duration of the consideration of this bill. pretty direct. offer an amendment. people should be able to see it. guess what. the republicans objected to that. exactly here's what the senator from wyoming, the senior senator, said. in light of some of the trust problems and transparency
problems, it appears to lead to greater transparency, i object. something that creates transparency, they object because it doesn't create transparency. so, mr. president, let me just say we're going to finish this defense bill. we're going to move on at the appropriate time and vote on the so-called manager's package, which will save lives along with the other bill that's now before the senate, health care, save money, and save medicare. there are immediate deliverables. i don't know what in the world the senator from texas was talking about. something that is picked up on talk radio; i don't know, but it's not anything that deals with reality. we're going to do away with preexisting disabilities. the letters we receive from around the country what insurance companies do is incredible. we'll insure 31 million new
people. pretty good. 31 million. create primary -- primary care physicians will be created, thousands of them. thousands of community health centers, which we should have been doing a long time ago. mr. president, i can remember, as a new senator, that seat right there in the back of the chamber was by the famous pat moynihan. we were at that time dealing with homelessness. that was kind of the issue of the day. and he turned around to me, a new senator, and said, this is ridiculous. the reason there are as many homeless as we have is because we didn't do our job. when the insane asylums, the mental institutions were emptied because we couldn't take care of these people in institutions, part of the deal was we'd have community health centers to help them get their medication and have them taken care of. we didn't do that, and that's one reason we have so many homeless people. this bill is going to alleviate
most of that. there's something in this legislation called the class act that we'll offer in the first time in the history of this country for disabled people, people who are working, to plan ahead in case they do become disabled. fully paid for. c.b.o. said in the far future, decades and decades in the future paid for. i didn't use a penny of that money for the bill that's before the senate. so, again, mr. president, i say to my friends on the other side of the aisle, i'm sorry this has been such a method of just saying "no" to everything. everything. everything. it's too bad that we didn't have a little more help, but we got none. we hope that they will join with us, the minority, and as did the
republicans in the house of representatives, and support the troops. 395-34. democrats and republicans overwhelming majorities, over 90% for democrats and republicans in the house supported that bill. that is what we need to do here in a show of good faith to the men and women fighting around the world. for example, mr. president, in afghanistan, i read the morning news from nevada, the nevada national guard, in the mountains of afghanistan had a vicious firefight that lasted more than a day, chasing these evil people through villages. many of them were killed. one nevadan was wounded. that's what this legislation before this body is about, and i hope, mr. president, we can do what needs to be done. i move to table the motion to concur on the house amendment to the senate amendment with amendments. i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is
the presiding officer: any senators wishing to vote or change their vote? on this, the ayes are 63, the nays are 35. the motion to table is agreed to. the majority leader. mr. reid: mr. president, pursuant to -- no, i'm sorry. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: we'll have order. please take your conversations out of the senate. we'll have order. mr. coburn: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. mr. coburn: mr. president, the
pending motion to concur to the house amendment would cause the aggregate level of outlays for fiscal year 2010 as set out in the most recently agreed-to concurrent resolution on the budget, s. con. res. 13, to be exceeded. therefore, i raise a point of order under section 311a2 of the congressional budget act of 1974.mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i move to waive all applicable sections of the act and relevant budget resolution for purposes of the pending motion and ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll.